Cheryl Inkster

"I chose the Counseling Psychology Program within the Faculty of Education at SFU because of the high quality of instruction and training I would receive. I knew studying at SFU would help me pursue my goal of becoming a counsellor and conducting research."

Year Graduated: 2017
Program/Degree: Counselling Psychology MA

I am a MA alumna in the Counselling Psychology Program in the Faculty of Education. My research was on the relocation experiences of Indigenous female youth in foster care using an Indigenous Story work method. My research interests developed from my previous work experience as a youth worker and undergraduate training in Youth Justice and Child and Youth Care. I worked for several years within a social service agency as a youth worker and witnessed how education shapes major decisions in the lives of children and youth. I returned to school to further my education and training at SFU to become a counsellor and pursue my goals of conducting culturally sensitive and applicable research with Indigenous communities. While studying counselling at Simon Fraser University, I have built upon my previous skills and developed a deep appreciation for pursuing further education.

Please tell us how you first discovered your program.
Before studying at SFU I studied at Douglas College and completed a diploma in Youth Justice and a Bachelor’s degree in Child and Youth Care. I worked as a youth worker for several years with youth who were on probation, incarcerated, or in foster care. My work experience inspired me to pursue a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology at Simon Fraser University.

Please tell us why you chose the Faculty of Education at SFU for your studies.
I chose the Counseling Psychology Program within the Faculty of Education at SFU because of the high quality of instruction and training I would receive. I knew studying at SFU would help me pursue my goal of becoming a counsellor and conducting research.

Who is a faculty member you have enjoyed working with and why?

I have enjoyed working with my thesis supervisors Dr. Amy Parent and Dr. Sharalyn Jordan. Dr. Jordan is a gifted instructor and a supportive thesis supervisor. She has been encouraging and helpful in supporting me to conduct research. Sharalyn is creative and flexible and willing to go beyond what is required to support students in learning and conducting research. Early in designing my research proposal I approached Sharalyn and shared that I wanted to work with an Indigenous Elder on my research committee. Sharalyn was supportive and helped make this happen. She also connected me with another faculty member, Dr. Amy Parent to co-supervise my thesis. Dr. Parent is extremely knowledgeable on Indigenous research methods and guided me through this process. Dr. Parent supported me in my desire to use an Indigenous research method.

What inspires you to learn and continue your education?
Education has transformed my life. After graduating High School I attempted to go to college, but I dropped out half way through my first semester. I never saw myself attending post-secondary school. I volunteered when I was 19 years old with a community agency as a mentor and discovered that I wanted to study how to better support others. My volunteer experience inspired me to go to college and complete a diploma so I could work as a youth worker. Once I took courses I was passionate about I developed a deep desire to learn more. I learned that education is practical and I could apply what I was learning to my job as a youth worker and now as a counsellor. My passion for education continues and I plan to continue my education and pursue PhD studies so I can build upon the skills I have developed at SFU and apply this knowledge to supporting Indigenous communities.

What would you say to prospective students who are considering graduate school in the Faculty of Education?
Talk to someone who is in the program you want to study. Most people are happy to share their experience and answer questions. Discover what you are passionate about.

Is there anything else you wish to share?

I chose the Faculty of Education at SFU because of the range of opportunities available to students. Studying at SFU allowed me to connect with resources to work towards my academic and professional goals. Take advantage of the opportunities available to students and connect with others. The support I received from the Faculty of Education as well as my research supervisors, mentors and classmates was invaluable.